The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
One of the maladies that I face in my life is that I engage my mouth too often without fully engaging my mind as to what I am going to say. That particular malady results in another and that is that I find my foot often lodged in my mouth shortly after the first malady manifests itself. Needless to say today's proverb was eye-opening to say the least. I learned that what truly needs to be engaged before I speak is my heart - which is to be what instructs my mouth before it engages in saying what "ought" to be said.
The heart of a wise man instructs his mouth what to say. Some might say that if this were the case all we would say is, "thump, thump" in a rythmic fashion. (Oops, there I go again!) But the Hebrew concept of the heart is a wondeful one. The heart refers to the immaterial inner self - or what the Holy Spirit would refer to as man's spirit. This is considered by the Hebrew mind to be our inner nature - the workings of our mind as it is instructed by the Holy Spirit using as His primary text, the Word of God. Thus the mouth is instructed by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself - who takes the Word and uses it to instruct us, through our spirit, so that our mind is taught. This working then brings to our mind things that should be filtered out - or in some cases filtered in.
Scripture, for example, instructs us in Colossians 4:6
, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." What a great instruction for our mouths. Therefore, as the Spirit does this He asks us, "Hey Bubba (sorry, I live in Arkansas and this is pretty effective here), is what you are going to say gracious? Does it have a little 'salt of the gospel' in it - so that it will make whoever is hearing you thirsty for God - and the gospel?" Something else the Spirit of God might ask is this, "Yo Bubbba, did you think about what this person truly and lovingly NEEDS - or - are you just spouting off what you want to say to them?" These are things that will truly alter how you speak - because in all honesty - not even our words belong to us. We were bought with a price - therefore we are to glorify God with our bodies - which, by the way, includes our mouths!
Here is another way our mouth can be instructed by the wisdom of the Spirit of God. He may choose to remind us of Ephesians 4:29
which says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word
as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
so that it will give grace to those who hear." So this time the Spirit of God may chime in with something like this. "Dude (this is when I am in California), is what you are going to say wholesome, or does it smell like rotten fruit or nasty-smelling fish! Are you going to build up your friend - or just confirm him in the same worldly ways that his other friends speak? Like, you totally need to think about what he NEEDS right now! Have you even heard what HE'S been saying at a heart level in this conversation and others? Don't be a total bogart man - give him some grace - some love brother - some real helpful, encouraging, gospel-smelling stuff!"
Now, apart from the regionalization of all this in my language - there are a few VERY important things we can learn from just these two examples. We learn how the Scriptures would be used by the Holy Spirit to instruct our mouths. First, note that in both examples the Lord wants to instruct us to think of others
as we open our mouths. Second, note as well in both examples that the Lord wants us to have our words abound with grace
as we speak. Lastly, there is either stated or implied that our words are to be used to build others up - not tear them down
. You can take these three things to the verbal-bank! We ought to write them on the inside of our mouths, so to speak, so that we are reminded that any word that proceeds out of them should be - 1) others-minded, 2) filled with grace and the gospel, and 3) encouraging! Can you imagine the difference that would make in a matter of days in the things we say!?
The rest of today's proverb reminds us that when we do this - our hearts will help us to have additional "persuasiveness" added to everything we say. I have known people like this in my life - and they are amazing people. They are the E.F. Hutton's of the spiritual world - and in many ways the world in general. When they speak - people listen! The amazing thing is that this is not because they have "earth-shaking" things to say every time they open their mouths. It is more because you will be blessed and uplifted whenever they speak! You want to hear what they say - because it nourishes your very soul to hear it.
Precious ones . . . let us not be people whose mouths are instructed by our culture - or by our own selfish motives - or by the evil one who would love to use our mouths for his own destructive purposes. Let us be people of the grace-filled, love-overflowing, life-encouraging, Spirit-instructed mouth! Let us embrace hearing what our hearts have to say about what words we should use. And as we listen to this soul-nourishing instruction for our mouths - may we submit our hearts to be ruled and governed by the Holy Spirit of God. May His tutelage dominate our conversations, our statements, and our answers so that others may be blessed - made thirsty for the God who speaks through us - and hungry for the same gospel grace that has changed our hearts, which is the very reason that our conversation is so different!
Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly. Proverbs 16:22
There is an artery that carries the blood from our hearts to the rest of our bodies. We know it as the aorta. The passage for today from proverbs uses a phrase, "fountain of life" which is "mekor chaiyim" in the Hebrew. This was the phrase used often as an allusion to this artery which carries the blood from the heart to distribute it to all the extremities of our bodies. It is used here though in reference to the one who has "understanding." As the aorta is the life-giving channel to the whole body phsyically - so understanding is the life-giving vehicle to our moral and spiritual well-being. Therefore it is pretty important that we know what it means to have understanding in our lives.
The word "understanding" here is the Hebrew word "sekel." This word means, "having intelligence and good sense." But the intelligence mentioned here is more than just book learning about various subjects. It means to have understanding and insight into things that comes from more than just mere educational learning. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 22:12
that only the Lord can give us insight and understanding. This is given so that we can obey God and please Him - which is the greatest understanding of things in light of eternity. Job 17:14
reminds us that God can give this understanding and insight - or - take it away whenever He so chooses. The result of having this kind of godly, God-given insight and understanding is that it helps us to be patient and forgiving (Proverbs 19:11
). Those who have such insight will be praised - and will turn from perversity in their lives (Proverbs 12:8
). You come away from the definition of this word seeing that God grants this insight as we get into His Word - understand it - and gain insight into both His character and the character of mankind. The knowledge of both of these things is what grants us patience to deal with the failings of others patiently. We grasp the power of forgiveness as we experience it from God at levels that will infinitely dwarf any forgiveness that we will ever have to give others for their trangressions against us. We will also find that such biblical insight gained from our heavenly Father will turn us to godly, holy lives - and turn us from lies, deceit, and anything which perverts and twists our path from God's ways and plans. In this end - this is a conduit for life - God's life in its fullness.
The discipline of fools is folly. The general agreement on the scholars is that "musar" which is the word here for "discipline" has the idea of instruction. It is how we use the word discipline when refering to a field of study. We are in the discipline of Mathmatics. That means that we are studying this field - and intentionally harnessing ourselves to a disciplined practice of doing math every day - so that we learn the field of study - or in this cast the discipline of Mathmatics. The passage says that the learning or instruction of the fool is folly. This is why a fool is such a pathetic figure in Proverbs. He remains a fool because that is all he disciplines himself to be - a fool. He so delights in his folly that is it all that he ever learns and pursues. In the end - he only becomes a bigger and bigger fool. Since folly is his life-blood, the flow of his choices, attitudes, and actions only solidify the result that he will be a bigger fool tomorrow than he is today. His only real hope is that the grace of God rescues him from his foolishness - and brings him to the place where he values wisdom and understanding. There must be a heart change for him to begin to experience an "aortic-change" in what flows through him as his life-blood. Honestly - this is the gospel - God reaching into the hearts of fools - changing them by His grace. Taking out their heart of stone (the heart of a fool). Granting them by His mercy and infinte kindness a new heart of flesh. This heart values wisdom and understading . . . and then, seeing the change as this new heart values understanding - which then becomes the new life-blood that flows throughout him. Only that kind of change - changes the hearts of fools. Otherwise, their discipline of study remains folly - which confirms them as lifelong fools. Their end is the ultimate place of all fools - next to the ultimate fool of all eternity - in a lake of fire that is wholly popluated by all the fools who said in their hearts, "There is no God."
Better to have life - and to have a heart that because of grace and the gospel pumps out understanding - insight - biblical knowledge - and discretion. Thanks be to God for the "aortic-change" that brings life to us - and causes life to flow into every apsect of our entire moral and spiritual being!
The wise in heart will be called understanding, And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Proverbs 16:21
How can we increase our influence and persuasiveness with people? That is the question that Solomon answers today in our proverb. It has to do with being wise in our hearts before we decide to open our mouths. It also involves us learning to discern what do say in different situations in life - then saying it competently.
The wise in heart will be called understanding. Wisdom enters our hearts when we turn to the Lord as our primary source for learning and understanding our world around us. Proverbs chapter 2 reminds us that as we seek God for His wisdom and open our hearts to what He desires to teach us, "Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you." (Proverbs 2:10-11
) When we have wisdom enter our hearts - we will be able to distinguish between things that honor and please God, and things that are worldly and please our flesh. When we have this ability the Spirit of God will teach and train us in the way of wisdom. The passage here says that we will gain a reputation over time - of being a discerning person. That is what the word "understanding" means here. It means to be someone who due to wisdom - can now understand situations and circumstances that cannot ordinarily be understood from human wisdom alone.
As this discernment increases and begins to catch the attention of others, There will also be multiple opportunities to speak that wisdom to benefit those around us. But Solomon offers us a little instruction. If we will use pleasant and sweet speech when speaking that wisdom to others - we will have our persuasive abilities increased. A harsh word or a mean-spirited one will stop communication before we can ever communicate wisdom. That is why we are warned to increase our persuasiveness by speaking with kindness. We are to speak the truth - but speak it in love. If we do not - often we will be tuned out and our opportunity to influence people for the Lord will be stopped.
We need to be men and women both of wisdom and of gracious communication of it. That will allow us to have the maximum amount of persuasiveness as we share the truth. Too often people want to share truth - but with too harsh an edge. Love people and speak the truth to them. As you do you will gain a repuatation for speaking sound and good things in your counsel. You also will have that counsel regarded - and appreciated by many who will call you a person of great discernment.
He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20
Ever have problems paying attention to something? This is a common problem with just about everyone I've ever known. Many of us are avid day-dreamers who take excursions all over the world - or at least all over the recesses of our minds - every day. The problem is when distracted thinking affects how we approach and deal with God's Word and what the Lord is trying to say to us in our daily quiet time.
Today's proverb has excellent advice for those who want to be wise. Pay attention to what God is saying to you in His Word! That is the advice. Simple isn't it. Yet anyone who has ever had a quiet time go awry knows that simple in stating and complicated in obeying is the problem here. I've had quiet times where I spent the majority of my time turning down dog-eared pages in my Bible. I've had other ones where I will finish reading a chapter and wonder what is the world I just read. At other times I've been reading a chapter and been horribly distracted with thoughts poking themselves into my mind between every verse. All this can be downright frustrating at times!
Giving attention to God's word means that we do more than just read over it. The word for attention means to consider something. To place our entire attention toward it also is part of what this word means. Distractions are normal, but when they come we need to stop reading and deal with them. Otherwise we will be in danger of just reading over words - without truly paying attention to them.
Giving attention to the Word also means taking a little time to consider, meditate, and learn from it. I've been guilty in the past of just wanting to read a lot of the Bible - and not think on what I am reading. This particular blog was a way of battling that problem. Writing these posts have made me slow down and truly consider what a verse means. Consider keeping a quiet time journal where you can focus on one verse, or a few of them. That will help you pay attention to what God is saying to you.
The blessing that comes from this is that you will find good. The good that you will find is varied. Some days you will find a promise in God's Word that you can claim. Other days you will find instruction or teaching about some aspect of God or His will. On others you will experience rebuke or correction that will lead you away from a sin and back into sweet fellowship with the Lord. Still others will yield a fresh glimpse of God's glory and character that will blow you away or thrill your heart. There is so much good that comes from approaching the Word as more than just something to check off on your day. You need to approach it as you would approach Him - because that is exactly what you are doing!
There is another blessing that comes from doing this as well - and it is explained for us at the close of this proverb. You will be blessed because as you understand God's will and ways and person better - you will be able to trust in Him! When He gives a command you can trust Him to provide the power to keep it. When He offers rebuke or conviction you can trust Him to grant repentance and to lead you into freedom from the sinful action. When He offers hope or encouragement you can trust Him to bring you through the situation which has caused hurt or pain. There are so many ways that God can make you truly blessed as you have a fresh opportunity to trust Him and rely upon what He has said in His Word. May you be blessed indeed as you continue having daiily times alone with Him - as He speaks to you - as you pay attention - and as you are wonderfully blessed as He encourages you onward into every new day of trusting Him and seeing Him work out His will in your life!
The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes
humility. Proverbs 15:33
There are few people who do not want to be wise. The rub comes when they learn how to become wise. There is even a higher cost when you learn the method by which God will bring us to the point where we become wise.
The first thing we need to grasp is that wisdom comes from God. If men, in their experience of life, manifest wisdom - it is only because they have stumbled across it over the course of their lives. Even a blind squirrel will find a few nuts as he wanders underneath the trees. Wisdom is defined best as seeing things as God sees them. Therefore if we are going to become wise - we will have to respect God and what He has to say. That is the crux of what Solomon is saying here when he states that the fear of Jehovah is the instruction for wisdom. If we do not respect and reverence God - we are fools. If we do not honor Him and give Him the honor which He deserves, we will not be wise in the end.
We note here that the fear of Jehovah is the "instruction" for wisdom. The word for instruction here is the Hebrew word "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. This means far more than just learning something in our heads. This involves both mental instruction of the head - and discipline to make sure that what goes into our heads is then applied and carried out in our lives. This often involves some correction, pain, and difficulty as we have to learn to value God's perspective more than our own. This is the process of wisdom - and depending on how stubborn or prideful we are in holding to our particular perspective - how painful and hard it will be to become wise.
The last part of this proverb lets us know the one overarching principle that will apply throughout this entire process. "Before honor comes humility." Humans (at least fallen ones - and that means all of us) want the honor now. They want honor immediately. If we want the honor of other men and the world that may be possible. If we want the honor that comes from God and that is lasting - we will have to take a different path. Honor from God requires humility first. It is the humility that is willing to empty ourselves and lay our own will and ego down. This is what Christ Jesus did according to Philippians 2
, and God requires nothing less of us. Oh how hard the human will goes down. But in order to be wise - and to receive honor from God - that is what we will have to do. But such wisdom and such honor is better than anyting billion things the world can offer us in the way of its trinkets and trash.
Want to be wise? Want lasting, eternal honor? Then wisdom is what you want. You will haae to first admit you don't have any - and then turn to the only One Who can give it to you. You will need to see your view of God raised infinitely higher - where you find His wisdom and guidance impeccable in every way. You will need to embrace His thoughts and working in your mind even in the most difficult times when honestly, it does not make sense. You will need to lay your own thoughts in the dust - until you learn that they are in agreement with His - then praise Him for enlighening your mind to have such thoughts. This is the way of wisdom - which is also the way of humility. But I can promise you by the Word of the Lord that this is also the way of true happiness, true contentment, and a true reward that will last infinitely beyond any trophy, any medal, any certificate, or any human reward that will fade and fade away with time.
He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. Proverbs 15:31-32
If you want to be wise, you will have to learn the value of reproof and rebuke. That is a tough thing to do because very few of us take to these things at all. We are fallen creatures therefore a couple things are true of us. First of all, we usually think we are right. This creates a problem because we react with pride and defensiveness when we are rebuked and reproved. Second of all, we are rebellious. Therefore when someone offers correction our first response is to resist and resent it. But as we will see from today's proverb of the day, these things can really hurt us.
We dwell among the wise when our ear is open to "life-giving reproof." I am so glad that when God inspired this He made a distinction between life-giving reproof and other kinds of reproof. The difference between these two is that life-giving reproof is correction that is bent toward blessing us and offering us rebuke that will turn us away from sin and turn us to God who gives us life. To be reproved in this way turns us from our own way, the way of the world, and the way of destruction - which is how the devil will seek to offer us. Thus it turns us away from death and sin, and instead points us into the way of life - or said another way - into the ways of God. Regular reproof is correction based out of an idividual's preferences. Jesus was reproved . . . often. He faced Pharisees who rebuked Him for His teaching, His miracles, and the people He chose to hang around. People will reprove you for walking in the ways of God. This kind of reproof requires both understanding and discernment on our part. Just because someone reproves you, does not mean that they are correct in their reproof. That is why Solomon warns us only to open our ear to "life-giving" reproof.
We read in verse 32 of a person who neglects discipline. The word discipline means instruction that offers truth and a disciplinary rebuke or correction. Godly men and women offer discipline to us to bless us in the end. But the unwise man rejects it outright. When he does this Scripture tells us that he "despises himself." He hates himself when he does these things. The rejection of all discipline and moral limits will destroy our lives. You can easily see in a child who is a spoiled brat this danger. The child gets his own way - and is not corrected so as to learn wise and godly behavior. In the end this child will destroy himself with their selfishness and self-centered behavior.
The one who listens to godly reproof will aquire "understanding." The word here refers to the heart - or the inner moral life and compass that we need to have. When we listen to reproof and learn from it - our inner moral compass is set by God's standards. We learn right and wrong. We may simply respond to discipline by avoiding the pain of it at first. This is the response of a child who is spanked early on in life. The initially avoid the behaviors to avoid pain. But after a while the child, if trained properly, is also learning "why" they are not to do something. The process teaches understanding. The child learns from the wisdom of the parent that there are reasons to avoid the moral bahavior. This understanding will guide them and teach them that when discpline comes - it is from love that people offer it. When followed such wisdom will truly bless any man or woman who will take the time - and often the pain that rebuke often brings - to learn from it.
Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Proverbs 15:30
It is a good thing to be bright-eyed and fat-boned as a Christian. Ok, there is a sentence you won't hear everyday. Yet the fact is that today's proverb tells us that this is a good thing - and that the wise man will fully embrace it. Therefore it would definitely be good to understand just what this proverb speaks about - so that we can be blessed in this way.
Bright-eyed . . . We hear of people who wake up each morning being "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed." This is an expression that refers to someone who wakes up and is truly awake. The idea of being bushy-tailed refers to a squirrel who when his tail is bushy means that he is fully alert. These are English expressions, but what we are dealing with here is a Hebraism. It was an expression that meant something to a Jewish person - just like our sayings mean something to us.
This proverb is a "restated" proverb, meaning that each half restates the other. Thus this brightening of the eyes - is similar to the good news that puts fat on the bones. So we can know that the effect on the eyes here is from seeing good things. What is fascinating though is looking at the word "bright" in the ways that it is used in other places in the Old Testament. The overwhelming use of this word is in reference to the light of the seven-fold lap in the tabernacle of Moses. The reason this is fascinating is because of the imagry that this picture. The lamp was filled with holy oil - a picture of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit. The lamp was the only source of light in the Holy place. It illuminted two things in that room. There was the table of showbread - which is a type of God's Word. There was also the altar of incense - which is a type for us of prayer and worship. Now in light of these things, let's look at at this proverb again.
What is the news that fattens our heart? It is when we have the full measure of the illumining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When that is the case we have Him opening the Word to us. We have Him opening our hearts to pray and to worship God. This would definitely make our hearts glad. This is the best news of all - God is worthy - God wants us to make our requests known to Him - God wants to speak to us through His Word!
This also makes wonderful sense when we see what the Hebraism, "fat-bones" means. This particular Hebraism means a sense of prosperity. When someone has fat on their bones - they are prosperous and blessed. It is good news that does this. Indeed there is a sense that this proverb can simple mean having eyes that are brightened by seing good things and ears that hear good things - makes us glad and prosperous. But there is also a deeper spiritual meaning that takes us to a different level. When we hear and see the good news that the Scripture tells us about God - it brings joy to our heart and spiritual fatness to our bones.
It is a wise thing when a man submits himself to the work of the Holy Spirit. This will brighten his eyes and bring great gladness to his heart. He will see the gospel, which indeed is good news. He will see the truth of God which will put some serious fat on his bones. He will find himself prospering greatly in the Lord - blessed with spiritual growth - and delghted in the goodness of God. No doubt about it - it is a good thing to start your day with a quiet time where you seek the Lord - and submit yourself to the Spirit of God as a teacher and guide. Doing that will truly make you a bright-eyed and fat-boned Christian!
The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
This proverb explains for us who God is near and the ones from whom He keeps His distance. It is a frightening thing to me to read that Jehovah is far from the wicked. Note that this does not say that the wicked man is far from God - but that God is far from him. Since this proverb has to do with prayer - we are talking about a wicked man and his prayers (if he has any at all). The only prayer that God will hear from a wicked man is a prayer of repentance. Otherwise we can read in numerous other places that God is sickened and wants nothing to do with his praying. Later in Proverbs we learn that, "He who turnes away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9
) A wicked man would frequent a prayer meeting as often as an at-large criminal would frequent a police station. But when the wicked do pray, God will not hear. We read another terrifying passage in Proverbs chapter 1 about the prayer of the wicked.
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof." Proverbs 1:24-30
This passage warns those who think they can mock God and live with no fear of Him. It warns them that when calamity comes, they cannot turn to God only for deliverance from it. This is how the wicked pray - they turn to God when disaster comes, but then mock Him when everything is well. We read that God Himself will mock them in that day. He does not do so because He is vindictive. He does this because He knows that such praying rises from a heart that is wicked still. Therefore he will not hear. He is far from such praying. He even considers it an abomination to Him.
Fortunately, this proverb does not end with the statement about the wicked. God reminds us that He does hear the prayer of the righteous. There is a twofold way we should understand this. First, we need to see it positionally. The "righteous" is not righteous because of his deeds. We read in multiple places throughout Scripture that the righteous man shall live by faith. He is made righteous by faith in God's provision for sin. He is granted righteousness as a gift of God's grace. He cannot make himself righteous because he is steeped in sin. All he is fit for is punishment and wrath. God, though, has come to the rescue with blood of a spotless lamb that speaks on his behalf. This lamb was a physical one in the Old Testament, but that was just a shadow of the glory of God's grace to come. God sent THE Lamb when Jesus Christ came to earth and gave His life on the cross for our sins. That was sufficient payment for us - and God offers with it the very righteousness of Christ as a gift of His glorious grace. That is why He hears the prayer of this man (or any man for that matter). He stands in a divinely-provided righteousness that speaks effectively for him. Thus God hears!
The second way this passage should be understood is by a practical understanding. God hears the prayer of the saved man who practially embraces the righteous ways of God. We cannot, even as Christians, ignore obedience to God and expect God to hear our prayers. We read in the Word that if we regard sin in our hearts, we know that God does not hear us. Some complain of much prayer that seems to be ignored by God. But prayer that is ignored is prayer to One that we've offended by our choice of sin rather than righteousness. It is only when we take refuge in 1 John 1:9
- confessing our sins - that we can once again be heard.
Our Father is a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. But we must understand that He is God, not a shabby version of Santa Claus. There are principles involved in how God hears and answers prayer. They are not complicated principles - but they are principles that are strictly adhered to as we approach Him. The key to answered prayer is walking and asking according to His will. If we allow sin to enter either our walk or our requests, we will find that our praying is ineffective. Embrace righteousness - both positionally and practially and you will find prayer a delight. You will also find a God who is eager to hear - eager to work - and eager to answer.
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. - Proverbs 15:28
Look before you leap. There is a proverb outside Scripture that reminds us to seriously think about the steps we take, because once we take them we cannot get them back. Our proverb today is similar to this except it deals with what we say. One might say that this proverb could be said this way, "Think before you speak!"
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer. We should note right from the start that the "heart" of the righteous is what is pondering his answer. The godly man does not allow his mouth to run its own course without the management of the heart. He wants to speak from the heart - not shoot from the hip. The problem about shooting from the hip when we speak is the carnage that results from drive-by speaking. This wise man thinks and considers what he is about to say. He takes the time to meditate on God's Word before he speaks his own. He discerns what is needed for the situation and speaks according to what God wants. This godly man speaks as God directs in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear." Ultimately this man speaks those wonderful, edifying words that are like "apples of gold in settings of silver" which are words spoken at just the perfect time.
The wicked allows his mouth to have free reign in his life. This is a dangerous thing because left to itself a mouth can be dangerous. We read in the third chapter of James, "So the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fireon fire! And the tongue is a fire: the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, ans set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." These verses warn us in the starkest terms of the danger of allowing our mouths and tongues to gho unchecked in what they say. When we do this it is inevitable that our mouth will "pour out evil things." The heart of the wicked man will be fully expressed by his words. The result of this will be much evil and pain in the world. Consider how many horrible things started with evil words pouring out of a wicked man's mouth. Think for a moment how Adolph Hitler mesmerized entire crowds in Germany by his wicked words. Then consider what the end of his leadership brought to the world. We may not ever do the damage of Hitler, but much harm can come from unwise, un-considered words.
Precious ones, God wants us to think before we speak. It will bring blessing to us - and will benefit those who are the recipients of our words. May we submit what we say to our Lord every morning. May we ask the Holy Spirit to bridle our tongues so that they do not speak of themselves. May we surrender all we say for God's purposes and God's specific leadership so that they can truly edify those who hear them.
He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live. Proverbs 15:27
Ours is a society that is quickly becoming corrupt at multiple levels. It has been sad to watch our country turn from one that valued integrity and honesty, to one that is moving toward the kind of values that exist in a banana republic. The frequency of elected officials being charged and convicted with fraud is alarming. The fact that we watch them use their positions of power to enrich themselves with laws they impose on us, while exempting themselves from their own statutes is terrifying. That is because, as we will learn from today's proverb, those who do such things bring trouble to their own home. This is true on a personal level, but also on a corporate and even national level too.
We read that those who profit illicitly trouble their own house. This simply means that when we choose to leave our integrity at the altar of greed and the pursuit of wealth at any cost, we are going to create serious problems for our family. This is for several reasons. First and most importantly is the trouble that is caused for our children and our grandchildren - even to the third and fourth generations of our family. They watch as we abandon God and embrace the pursuit of riches. Paul wrote young Timothy and warned that the love of riches is a root of all kinds of evil. He warns him in the book of 1 Timothy that some who have done this bring harm to themselves and pierce themselves with many a harmful desire. This will infect our families to several generations.
We see this in our current immoral business climate in the United States banking and financial sectors. Hardly a day goes by now without learning about another failure to preserve any moral foundation - as the generation that watched their parents make money and financial security their only goal now take those lessons to new lows. They are now grabbing all the money they can - in any way that they can - regardless of who is hurt and what businesses are destroyed in the process. The courts are now filled with men who set up ponzy schemes and who criminally mismanaged funds. We are learning that raw greed motivated them to steal money that was not theirs. Oh, and before we get too far away from our proverb, has brought great shame and trouble to their wives, children, and posterity even into the future.
We are given a protective against this in the second part of this proverb. The one who hates bribes will live. He will be protected against the devastating effects of greed. Bribes blind those who receive them. They are unable to see the truth because they are focused on easy money that is put in front of them. The bribe can be anything from the cash handed to a politician to look the other way of pass legislation that gives unfair advantages to certain businesses or groups - to the more subtle bribe that encourages someone to cut corners and cook books to cover their own greed for money. No matter how the bribe presents itself it is lying to us. It promises easy money, quick wealth, a way to get whatever we want without hard work and sacrifice. But the bribe lies to us - not telling us of the pitfalls and dangers that are inherent in living for the world and the flesh. These two foes of our spiritual growth and maturity are truly deadly - and can not just polute our spirits - but those of many future generations of our family. That is why we need to protect ourselves from "every kind of greed," as our Lord warns. For the truth is that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Life comes as we learn to submit every area of our lives to the Lord for Him to use for His glory. So the next time you are offered a bribe to lay aside biblical principles and values - see it for the dangerous thing it is. Reject it and turn to the Lord for strength to be content with what you have. That is the path to life!